Sunday, April 24, 2016

Hahn Family Wines from Monterey County, Santa Lucia Highlands Visit San Francisco

By Emma Krasov

Paul Clifton, GM and Director of Winemaking with Hahn Family Wines visited San Francisco last week to introduce an array of rich supple pinots produced from hillside vineyards of Santa Lucia Highlands, cultivated by the Hahn family since 1980.
Grown in the Arroyo Seco appellation, known for its rocky soils and cool Monterey Bay winds, the grapes for Hahn 2014 Pinot Noir Monterey County underwent gradual ripening, and developed intense vibrant flavor, balanced ripeness and acidity. The bouquet is of red cherry, ripe strawberry, cola and spice. On the palate – plums and black cherry. Supple tannins and a dash of acidity assure clean balanced finish.

Hahn SLH 2014 Chardonnay comes from vineyards exposed to a long and dry growing season resulting in complex concentrated flavors. The warmer than usual night temperatures led to lower acidity and earlier ripening. Fermented entirely in small French oak barrels, the wine was hand-stirred every three weeks for nine months. It’s rich and layered, with notes of orange, honeysuckle, caramel, and vanilla, and hints of minerality.

Hahn SLH 2014 Pinot Noir was fermented in open top stainless steel tanks and aged for up to 10 months in small French oak barrels. Aromas of dark cherry and strawberry with notes of cedar, mocha, and leather. Rich red fruit flavors on the palate, with lengthy finish.

Lucienne 2013 Pinot Noir Doctor’s Vineyard. The vineyard is planted near the center of the Santa Lucia Highlands, on a gently sloping hillside with gusting afternoon winds and afternoon sun exposure resulting in robust flavors of this 100% pinot noir.

Lucienne 2013 Pinot Noir Lone Oak Vineyard from the northern end of the Santa Lucia Highlands with the strongest maritime influence and the coolest growing season. Aromas of dried mushrooms, ripe cherry and raspberry with hints of wild game and spice.

Lucienne 2013 Pinot Noir Smith Vineyard. The Smith vineyard sits at the highest elevation of Hahn’s vineyards, its vines planted along the contours of ridges and valleys of the mountains. Ample sunshine and deep alluvial soils contribute to this Pinot Noir’s rich dark fruit flavors, vibrant acidity and elegant, silky texture.

Images: courtesy Hahn Family Wines

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Celebrity Cruises' “A Taste of Film” at Sonoma International Film Festival

Photo reportage by Emma and Yuri Krasov

19th Annual Sonoma International Film Festival presented by the Sonoma Valley Film Society earlier this month, featured not only the works of independent filmmakers from around the world, but also California cuisine from local artisans and exceptional wines from Sonoma vintners.

During the Festival, the long-term premiere sponsor Celebrity Cruises introduced its unique onboard program, “A Taste of Film” – a multisensory experience that presents films with culinary content, and brings the onscreen scenes to life through cuisine pairings created by Celebrity’s culinary team, led by Michelin-starred chef Cornelius Gallagher. The program debuted onboard Celebrity Infinity, and will be available onboard Celebrity Summit and Celebrity Millennium in May 2016, when each ship emerges from a brief refresh.

“We’re excited to bring ‘A Taste of Film’ to the Sonoma International Film Festival,” said Scott Clifton, Director of Sales, Western Region, Celebrity Cruises.  “It’s an amazing experience that fully immerses guests in the film by engaging all the senses, and it showcases the talent and commitment of our food and beverage team.”

At the two screenings of Ben Knight’s documentary “Cooking Up A Tribute” at the Celebrity Cruises’ events at the Vintage House venue in Sonoma City, the filmgoers started with a glass of JCB by Jean-Charles Boisset’s French sparkling No. 69 Crémant de Bourgogne, followed by a carefully curated food tasting, which brought the aromas and flavors of the food documentary to life.

The film follows the Roca brothers, Joan, Josep and Jordi Roca, owners of three-Michelin-star, top world restaurant El Celler de Can Roca, in Girona, Spain, as they close their restaurant for five weeks to tour the world with their staff, designing 57 innovative new plates inspired by the global cultures and regional food traditions they encounter.

Celebrity Cruises Chef Gary Penir created a seven-course menu to replicate some of the dishes featured in the film. Chef Gary has met the Roca brothers several times during his culinary career, and has also dined at their restaurant.  "A Taste of Film" menu included:
First Course: Caldo de Piedra (Hot River Stone Soup)

Second Course: Passionfruit Sphere, Don Julio Tequila, Black Salt, Lime Zest

Third Course: Crispy Egg Yolk, Potato, Sarsa sauce

Fourth Course: Ceviche de Mahi Tibia (Warm Mahi Ceviche)

Fifth Course: Taco de Cochino y Aguacate (Pork Belly and Avocado Taco)

Sixth Course: Beel Chile Mole, Banana Leaf Puree, Chayote

Seventh Course: Chocolate Anarchy

20th Annual Sonoma International Film Festival is scheduled for March 29-April 2, 2017. More information at: http://sonomafilmfest.org/.

Eureka! Now Found in Cupertino

By Emma Krasov, photography by Yuri Krasov
 

Founded just a few years ago, Eureka! was up to something with this famous Archimedes’ exclamation equipped with its own exclamation point! The restaurant group’s new locations sprout out just like spring greens after a long-anticipated rainy winter in California. Now holding sway in two dozen locations in California, Texas and Washington Eureka! is not your usual run-of-the-mill chain for deep fried goodies of uncertain origin. This full service hamburger restaurant specializes in fresh, authentic, handmade food with locally sourced ingredients, and craft beers, regional wines, and artisanal spirits chosen individually at each location. Each Eureka! store has a rotating list of local beers in addition to the permanent tap list, plus small batch whiskeys and bourbons, many barrel-aged in-house.

The group’s newest restaurant in Cupertino, California, in the heart of Silicon Valley, adheres to the general rule of serving only locally sourced produce, all freshly cooked to order. The embarrassment-of-reaches bar program features an amazing array of 100% American craft beers, California wines, and specialty cocktails. Among the latter – the classic rye Old Fashioned; signature Rosemary’s Ruby Red made with gin, bitters, lemon, grapefruit, simple syrup and garnished with a sprig of rosemary; and bourbon-based Holy Smokes served in a Mason jar that actually emits smoke upon opening the lid, and nostalgically smells like campfire.

Everything at Eureka! has its own deservedly attached exclamation point. A diverse selection of Starters! Includes Truffle Cheese Fries (hand-cut, tossed in truffle salt, topped with parmesan cheese and green onions, with a side of truffle cheese sauce); Golden Ale Mussels (jalapeno-bacon stock, crispy pancetta, golden ale beer, and tomato); and Lollipop Corn Dogs (Polish sausage in sweet corn batter with spicy porter mustard for dipping).

Burgers! menu boasts all Angus chuck burgers, like The Original Eureka! with iceberg lettuce, pickles, red onion, tomato, hickory smoked gouda, and special sauce; Bone Marrow Burger with bone marrow porcini butter; bison burger, turkey tortilla burger, Fresno fig burger, Veggie Beet Burger, and more.

Among Signatures! there are hand-crafted sandwiches and plates, like Slow-Roasted Pork Ribs with house-made dry rub, orange chili glaze, chimichurri and confetti slaw.

The restaurant doesn’t slack on desserts either. Butterscotch Rum Pudding with house-made whipped cream, caramel sauce, and sprinkled with sea salt is surely worth saving room for it, as well as Americana Apple Crisp and Chocolate Tarte.

Eureka! Cupertino provides diners with an alluring blend of rustic charm and chic design elements, creating a look and feel that is simple yet elegant. The building has a three story high vaulted ceilings and an outdoor patio where guests can enjoy the beautiful California weather. The service is fast and friendly. There are also several special programs for all kinds of diners that make dining at Eureka! even more fun.

Weekend brunch is featured on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Delectable offerings include Huevos Rancheros with turkey chili, fried eggs, ranchero sauce, black beans, Jack and cheddar cheese, avocado, and sour cream; Creole Benedict featuring fried green tomato, Virginia ham, Creole mustard hollandaise, breakfast potatoes; and Bananas Foster Crunchy French Toast topped with pecans. Mimosas and Bloody Marys on the weekends go for $5 each.

Weekly events include "Hoppy” Hour Daily 2 p.m. - 6 p.m.; Tuesday: Half-off Wine all day; Wednesday: Steal The Glass at 6 p.m.; Thursday: Live Music; Saturday & Sunday 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.: Brunch with $5 Bloody Marys and Mimosas all day. The restaurant open on Sunday - Wednesday: 11 a.m. - 11 p.m. and Thursday - Saturday: 11 a.m. - 12 a.m.
Eureka! is located at Main Street, 19369 Stevens Creek Blvd Suite 130, Cupertino, CA 95014. More information at: www.eurekarestaurantgroup.com.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Bergerac: A Promise Seasoned to Taste

By Emma Krasov, photography by Yuri Krasov
By using Rostand’s quote here for a title I mean to invoke neither the classical author’s play “Cyrano de Bergerac,” nor the main character’s reference to a kiss. All I mean is that the deliciously funky bar-restaurant Bergerac in San Francisco’s hip SOMA neighborhood promises and delivers food, drink, service, and ambiance perfectly seasoned to good taste.

Lately, contributing to Bergerac’s appeal is the newly hired chef Eric Nyeste (seen here with the efficient manager Leah Perrey) who turns the bar-centric comfort food into delectable feast of seasonal finds, witty ingredient combinations, and memorable treats for an adventurous urban eater.  
A native of Georgia, Chef Eric uses classic French technique with a slight Southern accent in his preparations of the robust American staples – to glorious results. Using the freshest produce from the local farmers markets and foragers’ crops readily available in Northern California, he puts on the diners’ tables his whimsical creations – each one more interesting than the last.

“I was inspired by Chef's experience and creativity and decided that this was an opportunity for us to build on that. I think that the Bergerac dining experience is now on par with that found at many of the city's popular restaurants," said Bergerac owner Anderson Pugash.

The Bergerac’s dining experience is tremendously enhanced by a dozen of classic, contemporary and house-designed cocktails, produced by the talented mixologist Tammy Hagans who can actually create new libations on the spot.

But let me give you some proof of Bergerac’s amazing capability to charm and entice. The first thing you notice upon entering the cleverly appointed space is its engaging bohemian atmosphere. The dining room was designed by Josh Roland whose ideas were inspired by the Villa Nellcôte – a Belle Époque mansion in Bergerac region of France once briefly occupied by the Rolling Stones. Decor highlights include wood paneling, colorful rugs, salon-style furnishings, and photo memorabilia circa “Exile on Main Street.”

Then the food and drink takes all your attention, assured by the friendly service.
A masculine Manhattan Project cocktail is made with 100-proof Old Forester bourbon, Punt e Mes vermouth, Carpano Antica, and bitters.

The feminine Pretty Woman is made with vodka, lemon, orgeat syrup, cinnamon syrup, berry jam, and cardamom tincture. A fresh sprig of rosemary adds some unexpected Christmas-tree aroma to it.  

A snack of deviled eggs besides the traditional Dijon stuffing comes with oil-pouched tuna belly, truffle oil, paprika, and a garnish of house-pickled green beans.

Roasted bone marrow is totally decadent with zesty gremolata, nettles puree, and in-season fennel pollen. “This pollen reminds me of hiking in Marin,” commented the chef. The marrow, served in-bone, comes with a brioche toast from the chef’s favorite bakery.

Parisian Gruyère gnocchi is as fancy as it gets with braised duck meat, caramelized carrot slivers, buerre rouge and tarragon. You’ll want to devour every single morsel on the plate!

Now would be a good time for a palate cleanser Bergerac style – Amaro Classico aperitif with orange bitters and orange peel served in gorgeous oval glasses.

The French classic beef tartar is made with tender marbled American wagyu, nettle oil, truffles, and a creamy top of egg yolk emulsion (just your typical bar food, n'est-ce pas?)

House-made tagliolini presents a delicious tangle of bacon strips, foraged chanterelles, microgreens, and pungent finely grated piave vecchio. Served on a white plate with radiating yellow lines it looks like the dish emits sun rays, and rightfully so.

But wait, there’s more! For dessert my dining companion and I shared a plate of airy Parisian beignets with cinnamon sugar and whipped pastry cream.

And! And… The cocktail mistress Tammy made one ESPECIALLY for moi. It was a heavenly concoction of vodka, chocolate, almond and coffee liquors (Borghetti caffe espresso), orgeat, cardamom, a tiny bit of lemon juice, and star anise for aroma and garnish. This wonderfully complex yet light craft cocktail made me feel like a rock star, indeed, and I surely hope to find it on the menu next time I’m at Bergerac. Tammy even graciously suggested it might be called “Emma’s special.” I don’t mind one bit!

Bergerac is located at 316 11th Street, San Francisco, California. Open Tuesday through Thursday from 5:00 p.m. until late, Friday from 5:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m., and on Saturday, 6:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. DJ on Friday and Saturday nights beginning at 10:00 p.m. Call for reservations (415) 255-9440 or visit www.bergeracsf.com.